Homeless Teen Backpack Project

Since February 2011, hundreds of homeless teens in Josephine and Jackson Counties have received a new backpack filled with useful and comforting items, through this project.

A team comprised of members and friends of the Unitarian Universalists of Grants Pass pack and distribute backpacks four times each school year. Distribution is accomplished through Family Advocates and school counselors at 13 facilities: five high schools, four alternative high schools, two middle schools and two agencies working with homeless teens. Each backpack contains a fleece blanket, socks, toiletries, a first aid kit, a bowl, spoon, duct tape, a Mylar blanket, school supplies, and many other items.

Funding for this project is achieved through grants, donations from individuals and local businesses and a special monthly offering at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Grants have been received from the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation, the West Family Foundation and the Carpenter Foundation. This project is also part of the Fred Meyer Community Rewards program. Every year since the project’s inception, The Herb Pharm in Williams, OR has generously donated tins of Herbal Salve to include in each backpack.

The goal is to provide these teens with basic necessities to help protect them from the elements, meet their basic hygiene needs, and simply to help bolster their self esteem. While we recognize that backpacks are not a solution to homelessness, they can provide short-term care and comfort, a sense of dignity, and help a teen to continue with school or work.